Measuring Your Blessing

measure 2

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)

We have king sized candy bars, supersized value meals, and a get more for your money, bigger is better, large and in charge kind of culture. The attitude is so pervasive believers can get caught up in the rush. How does one measure his or her worth? “Am I good enough?” is the haunting question that makes sleep restless. The apparent ease of others who seem to win and effortlessly meet their goals only intensifies the bitterness of defeat or failure.  Our “blessings” often appear unequal.

More, More, MORE – that is the message not so subtly woven into most of what you see and hear in any given setting, sometimes even in church. How does that mentality warp the view of a God who says, my grace is sufficient? What if God “blesses” you with less, with pain, hardship, difficult circumstances, or affliction? What if the prayer you pray is never answered in the way you planned.

Relax. The message of Christ is less is more. Throughout scripture, those who are small, weak, unskilled, ill-prepared, poor, disadvantaged and overlooked are the very ones chosen by God. Those are the ones blessed with lavish, abundant, glorious grace. That is the message Paul was trying to convey to his readers.

David was a kid when he killed the 9-foot tall giant, Goliath.   David was taking snacks to his older brothers on the battlefield. David was no warrior. He was a kid. He had no armor, no military training, he had a sling shot and 5 rocks. David was on God’s side. That made all the difference.

God whittled down Gideon’s army to only 300 men. In human estimation, that was not enough to win the battle. God explained to Gideon that with 300 men, when they won, they would know it was because God gave them the victory.

There are more examples of less is more. The widow with just enough oil and flour for one more meal, the widow with just a few pennies the boy with the loaves and fish, all had enough when measured by God’s standard. That is the key.  Jesus talked about it in Matthew 6. It’s the opposite message of the world.

Jesus’ message is; don’t worry about getting more, having more, being more. Jesus’ message is; give God what little you have and then stand back as He makes it into something extraordinary. A small bit of faith, is enough if it moves you to prayer or action. A giant circumstance is the perfect opportunity for you to trust in God’s strength, skill and love. Inadequate resources leave you no other option but to trust The One who owns everything. When you find yourself abandoned by those you thought would always be at your side; that is the moment you can hear God’s small voice of peace and encouragement.

Are you low on resources? Do you feel inadequate for the task? Are you alone? Does the future have you baffled? Perfect! You are a perfect candidate to be used by God. You are in the line for blessings!

Measure your blessings with God’s scale and you’ll realize you have enough!

Father help me rest in You and Your strength. Remind me to measure myself and my blessing by Your standard—not mine, the world’s or any other measure.

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If I’m Blessed, What Are You?

perspective 1But He said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NCV)

I have never been homeless. I have lived pay-day to pay-day. After paying all the bills, I have had only a few dollars left for groceries and “living.” Ron racked up enormous medical bills and then died, leaving me alone with a piddly income. Now, I live a comfortable life. I have much more than I need. When Terry asks me what I want for a birthday present I honestly have a difficult time coming up with an answer.

Am I blessed?

If I’m blessed now, was I not blessed when I was poor?

Oh SNAP! Is this why it’s so difficult to understand Paul’s boasting in his weakness? Is it possible to have a Godly view of trials if we don’t have a Godly view of blessings?

If God “blesses” me with a warm home, a car, food and comfort what is God doing to the homeless person I drove passed on my way home from the restaurant?

There is something uncomfortable about that question.

Does God love me more than He loves the homeless person? Am I better, more obedient, more worthy than the homeless person is? Why do I have God’s “blessings” while it seems God forces others in the world (both near and far) to live without those same “blessings?”

This begs the question, what are God’s blessings? Are blessings tangible things?   Proverbs 19 offers the believer some insight into what God thinks are His blessings.

  • Integrity
  • Wisdom
  • Self-control
  • Sincere relationships

(If this short list looks suspiciously like the list in Galatians 5, remember we are working our way back there.)

Health, wealth, ease—those things NEVER make it on one of God’s lists of things the believer should want.

Am I discontent in my suffering because I think I deserve something else? Do I feel as if God holding out on me when things don’t go my way?

Before I look at my circumstance, it seems like I should first develop an understanding of who God really is and His perspective on blessings and trials.   God is the framework of the believer’s life. The believer must define his or her life in terms of who God is and not define who God is by the events of life.

Undeserved favor—grace—isn’t that amazing?  Is THAT God’s blessing?

Father, thank You for the rich, amazing, lavish blessing of your grace! Help me to see the events of my life, both good and bad, in terms of Your loving grace. Help me not define You in terms of my understanding—but open my heart and mind to the revelation of Your character that is clear in Your word. Help me to embrace my weakness as a blessing that brings me closer to You.

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Trying to Earn My Raise

raiseThree different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)

So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:6-8 (NLT)

It’s a yearly ritual. I’ve done it every year since I began working. Now the process is elaborate and convoluted—in the past it was a 30-second conversation with my boss.

If you have a job, you have taken part in the process—it’s the annual performance evaluation. In my current job it’s a complicated multi-step process. The process isn’t as important as the result—either I’ll get a raise in pay or not.

Each year my employer attempts to quantify what I’m worth. The testimony of my co-workers, my self-assessment and my supervisor’s opinion determine my compensation. It’s based on my performance. The compensation never seems adequate.

I loathe this activity.

Are you good enough?

Whether you work outside your home or not, whether you’re self-employed or work for someone else—you are familiar with ranking.

  • Are you good at what you do?
  • Did you do a good job on the report your boss assigned?
  • Did you sell enough to keep your business going?
  • Do your dishes sparkle?
  • Are your kids successful?
  • Do your co-workers consider you a “good” co-worker?
  • Are you a good spouse, parent, child…

 

Boiled down to the nitty-gritty the question is ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH?

I don’t know about you, even in my best moments my answer is, “No.” I’m not a self-hater. I just know my weaknesses. I know how often my motives are self-serving. I know how often I could have done better if I had tried just a bit harder. I’m a procrastinator. I’m stubborn. I’m opinionated.

I may be my own “thorn.”

One thing I know is I can’t do this on my own. I’ve tried. Some days I still try. Some days I believe my own PR, or I listen to those who appreciate me and I try to live life in my strength. Tired and frustrated, I’ve caught myself asking God why He didn’t “Do something” to save me from myself.

A Slap of Grace

That is when grace so graciously slaps me upside the head.

Paul gushed about God’s goodness and grace in the greeting of his letter to the Ephesians. What was it Paul understood?

If Paul was a Christian writer today, I imagine the title of his book might be Embrace Your Suffering with a follow-up book Be Weak and Get Ahead. I doubt Paul’s works would be on the New York Times Best Seller list. His books would be dusty on the bookstore shelves. This isn’t a popular message. It flies in the face of EVERYTHING society teaches.

Is it any wonder that when we arrive at church on Sunday we default to the; I need to earn God’s favor mentality?

God’s not interested in giving me a raise for my good performance. He’s not interested in my Continuing Action Plan to earn His favor. THANK GOD!!

Suffering, trails, weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles—we run from those things. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not mature enough ask for hard times. That’s not what Paul is saying. Paul is facing the truth—it’s what Jesus spoke so plainly, “In this life you will have tribulation…” If you stop there, it’s not a good deal. Certainly not one I’d willingly accept. Jesus went on to say “…but take heart, I have overcome the world!”

God’s Blessing

God’s Blessing it’s almost as elusive as God’s will—at least when most believers speak of it. Many of us talk about God’s blessing like this;

  • If I’m good, God blesses me and living is easy.
  • If things are tough, there must be some secret sin, some unbelief or something wrong in my life.
  • God is unjustly picking on me.

In Psalm 73, Asaph pours out in song what most of us hold inside—why do evil people prosper while the righteous suffer?   Does God even care? Why am I being so good when all I get is suffering for my goodness?

Come on, you’ve thought it. If you’re bold enough, you may have spoken it. It’s in verses 16&17 that Asaph  begins to understand.   Asaph arrives at Paul’s conclusion in verses 25-28.

God’s Blessing IS His grace

If God “blessed” you and me based on what we deserve, our blessing would be meager. After all my hard work, my performance assessment and the meeting with my boss, when I look at my 2% raise, I often think, you might as well keep that, I’m worth MUCH more! If you want to work for God’s blessing, you will never be satisfied. No matter how “good” you are, you will never be “good” enough.

Paul tries to explain that working for your blessing is fruitless. Embracing your struggle, your suffering, your trial—admitting that You AREN’T enough is what opens the flood gate of God’s lavish grace.

Grace is MORE than you and I deserve. God’s goodness, kindness and grace should draw the believer closer to God and away from the temporal trials of today. God POURS His grace on the weak. God SHOWERS kindness on His children. Grace is more than you and I can understand—it’s rarely experienced in human-to-human relationships.

The trail, the thorn, the suffering, the adversity, the trouble you and I face aren’t meant to punish us, burden us, or to determine how much we can stand—those situations are meant to drive us to the only source of hope there is—God’s grace.

Father, make me quick to run to You as my only source when I face adversity. Teach me not to rely on myself—but wholly to rely on Your lavish grace.

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Am I My Sliver?

sliver

 You’ve forced me to talk this way, and I do it against my better judgment. But now that we’re at it, I may as well bring up the matter of visions and revelations that God gave me. For instance, I know a man who, fourteen years ago, was seized by Christ and swept in ecstasy to the heights of heaven. I really don’t know if this took place in the body or out of it; only God knows. I also know that this man was hijacked into paradise—again, whether in or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. There he heard the unspeakable spoken, but was forbidden to tell what he heard. This is the man I want to talk about. But about myself, I’m not saying another word apart from the humiliations.

 If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (MSG)

If you read Sunday’s post, you know I’ve been a bit off track this month. Usually I pick a topic or book and spend the month looking at it. If you are a regular reader, you know that hasn’t happened this month. If you are linear—like the typical me—you’ve probably felt tugged in different directions this month. I apologize.

For the last week of February, I’m going to show you the non-linear side of me and jump over to Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians. Currently, the topic of suffering and the role in plays in the believer’s life is the topic of the Sunday evening Bible study I’m attending.

For the believer, suffering is about grace. Grace is what Galatians is all about. That’s how this is all going to connect.

This was the text for last evening’s study. The pastor began by asking volunteers to share an affliction that he or she lived with or would not go away. I’ve had some affliction in my life. The first thing that came to mind was my first husband—his illness was also my affliction it didn’t go away until he died in spite of our prayers.

As I pondered that, I realized that, perhaps my biggest affliction is simply being me.

Paul wrote about his reason to be proud—he went into heaven and came back to earth. Paul had legitimate bragging rights. He was a man who was in touch with his tendency to be self-sufficient. Paul was able to give you a list of reasons to brag—he was an accomplished man.

Paul also understood the reason for the “thorn” God gave to him. Paul admits the purpose was to keep him humble. The Message paraphrases the word Paul used this way,

I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.

As I read and re-read that scripture last night—it was the thorn that caught my attention. I’m an operating room nurse. In the ten years I’ve worked in the OR, no one has come for the surgical removal of a thorn—big chunks of wood—yes, but a sliver—no.

Paul intentionally used the term “thorn.”

Slivers aren’t life threatening. They are annoying. Slivers can be painful—eventually they will make you aware of their presence. Slivers are little—sometimes you don’t even know how you got one until it becomes inflamed. One thing in true, you can live with a sliver in your finger.

I know to run to God with my big problems. What about the problem of me? Am I my own “thorn”?

Is that why Paul called the Galatians names when they abandoned the Gospel of Grace?

Come back tomorrow—let’s think about this some more.

Father, thank You for Your grace. As I read Your word, I’m forced to realize I need Your grace more than I want to admit. Lavish Your grace on me—in my everyday “thorn” experiences. Teach me to rely completely on Your love and grace.

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The Lame Duck

lame duck

Can you believe February 2015 is almost over?

I’m in transition and that’s not a good place for me.

I recently accepted a nursing position with Hospice. I’m really excited about making that change—in the medical world the operating room and Hospice are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s been fun to watch the reaction of the people I tell. I think one of the nurses almost dropped the phone receiver when I told her I was leaving the OR to take a Hospice position. The first response for a few of the surgeons was, “I didn’t know you were sick.” The unspoken response in my head, “Would you have been nicer if I were?”   Once I explained I am going to be a nurse not the patient it was back to business as usual.

Transition—I’m not quite finished in the operating room but I’m not quite a Hospice nurse yet. I’m a lame duck. As my friends in the OR begin their long Good-bye I’m neither here-nor-there—not really part of any group.

I’m restless. I’m sad to say “so long” to my OR friends and excited to make new Hospice friends. The restlessness has affected my writing and concentration—my long time followers may have recognized some of the posts from last week. That could continue—for now, I have abandoned any hope of finishing Galatians this month. I think that’s fine—who knows what tomorrow’s post will be. You’ll have to come back and see.

Spring is around the corner–with it, new adventure and the hope of new life. Ash Wednesday reminded me Easter is also right around the corner. It’s not too early to order a devotional book to place in an Easter basket. If you are looking for something other than candy, can I make a suggestion? Perhaps you can share the amazing story of grace with the ones you love. I have 3 devotional books you can order from Amazon.com. Each has zero calories but offers a sweet look a God’s amazing grace.

Finding the Holy in a mundane world is a good read for the new believer or non-believer. It offers an introduction to God’s character, Jesus’ example of grace, why grace is AMAZING and the call of the Christian life—doing good things not simply following a list of “don’ts”

The Books We Never Read is the best bargain—it’s a 3 month devotional. If you think the Old Testament is irrelevant to your life today, read the books we never read and you’ll find the story of God’s grace told and re-told in the lives of people with funny names, who lived in places with strange names, but who share the same struggles you do. You’ll also find the same grace tucked in these ancient stories.

A Clever Disguise if you’ve read my devotional blog, you understand, Ozzy is my handsome gentleman who is wonderful in every way!   Ozzy is my schnoodle—schnauzer-poodle mix. He’s a great dog that teaches me every day about grace, trust, dependence and obedience. If you have a dog lover in your life—this is the devotional book for him or her. It’s priced for gift giving.

You can find a link to the blog on Pintrest—Repin it when you see it!

Thanks to those of you who share my blog link, who have signed up to get an email each day when the blog posts, and who click the “like” button on Facebook! Those little things make a big difference!

I’m almost to the nice round number of 70 email subscribers. Help me out, would you? Once I get to 70—the next round number is 80, and so on…

If you doubt God’s ability to use the unqualified, to do more than I could ask or even imagine, scroll down and peek at the world map in the right hand column. Each one of those “*” represents a country where people have seen Finding the Holy in a mundane world. If you have shared this blog with someone, you are part of a worldwide ministry. God truly is amazing! I’m truly amazed! God can use a discombobulated, unsettled goof-ball to spread His word around the world. Thanks for your part in sharing this blog.

Pray for me.

Here are the links for last week’s posts! Enjoy and share!

Seeing With God’s Eyes

God’s Child

Fussy Babies

Call Me “Daddy”

Go To The Light

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Go To The Light

tunnel

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

Tunnel (Powell/Silver)

I usually listen to the song Tunnel by Third Day on the way to work. As I listen, I remind myself of what the writer of Hebrews reminded his readers of; no matter how bad it is, I haven’t bled yet.

In chapter 11 of Hebrews, the writer traced the great thread of faith through the Old Testament.   Referred to as the Faith’s Hall of Fame, chapter 11 names many names. Personally, I think what makes this list great is it’s made up of people. When you read the entire story of those people, you’ll find flawed, sometimes faithless, regular people. THAT gives me hope.

The culmination of that list is Christ. Once again, like yesterday, this passage draws your attention toward Christ. This tunnel of life can be long and dark. The light at the end of the tunnel can grow dim.   To win this race, to make it to the end of the tunnel, requires a fixed gaze and a resolute determination.

The advice is sound, when your faith waivers, when the tunnel is too dark, the climb too steep, when your legs begin to give out, remind yourself of The Story. Pause long enough to catch your breath and refocus your sites on Christ. Reread the stories of those who died for their faith, who lived without luxury, who endured because the coming glory was worth it. Then move push ahead, as a believer you are destined for the same glory.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s Christ. He went ahead to make a way for you and me.

THAT should shoot some adrenaline into your soul!

Father, keep my eyes on Christ. I will make Christ the center of my attention. Help me to move ahead, to not get stuck in today or the past. I will draw encouragement from the examples of those in the Bible and from Christ. I will keep my eyes on the prize.

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Call me “Daddy”

daddyYou can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as His own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? Galatians 4:6 (MSG)

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask Him?” Luke 11:10-13 (MSG)

You may remember a quandary from childhood. What do you call your friend’s mom? Calling someone else’s mom, “mom” doesn’t seem to fit. Calling her Mrs. State name here seems equally odd. Do you remember the compromise? Did you ever address your friend’s mom with a statement like this, “Umm (there is a pause while you try to figure out what to call her)… Rachel’s Mom, is it ok if we play downstairs?”

We set aside the terms: mommy, mom, mother, daddy, dad, father for those with a special relationship. Paul was desperately trying to help the new converts to Christianity understand this new relationship. This is a message for the believer!

Do you think of God as your Daddy? Did you just gasp a bit? Superficially, it seems irreverent.  The term Paul used in his letters isn’t found in the Old Testament. Don’t worry, it’s ok. God is your Daddy if you are a believer in Christ and His sacrifice for your sins.

Why is this message so important for the believer?

Perhaps you grew up in a great family of origin. Many people did not. I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad. For some that experience taints how they relate to a Heavenly Father. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus finishes His lesson with a parental analogy. God makes even the best earthly father look evil. If you had an abusive, mean or distant earthly father, God is very different.

God is not the caricature painted in pop culture. For some the depictions of God as an angry, vindictive judge, goofy old man, a genie who grants wishes or a buddy up in heaven make relating to Him as a father almost impossible.

Paul says that Christ came to buy with His blood and make free all those who were held by law. If you aren’t sure who that includes, it includes everyone. Before or until a person accepts the redemption that Christ’s sacrifice offers, that person is a slave to sin. Sin is not a great master. Sin always ends in death.

Today, there is no need to be afraid of God. God knew your sins when He sent Jesus to die. Today, His loving arms are open and longing to embrace you. If you choose to stay in a sinful state, being afraid of God will be proper one day in the future. One day, He will be a Righteous Judge and not a Loving Father.

Because of Jesus, the believer and God can have a new relationship. It’s not slave and owner, it’s Father and child! Being saved is so much more than simply being forgiven. Paul says you become an heir. You become a child of God.

How do you know this occurs? The Holy Spirit changes the heart of the believer. The God that was once distant becomes close. The God, once feared, is loved. The word Paul used in verse 6 is “Abba” it’s similar in emotional-feel to the word “daddy.” Jesus used the name in the garden of Gethsemane when He asked His Daddy if dying on the cross was the only way to redeem humankind.

If you are a believer, God is your Daddy.

Does that change your outlook on the day? Your Daddy gave up His only Son to buy you back from slavery and instead of making you a slave of His own; He made you His child. You are co-heirs with Christ.

Does that seem irreverent or does it make your heart swell with love and gratitude? Does that thought change the way you think about: how you pray, what you pray about, why you pray? Does relating to God as your Daddy make you want to share this Good News with others so they can be part of the family?

For the believer, having a Daddy changes things!

Daddy – thank you for sending Your Son, so that I could be free and be Your child. Thank you for loving me. Help me love You more. Let my life be an offering of gratitude to You.

 

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Fussy Babies

146_Baby_crying

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Matthew 6:26 (MSG)

Ozzy is our little schnauzer-poodle mix. He is delightful with a sweet disposition.   His biggest “worries” of the day are: the location of his favorite ball and the location of his bone. His day is uncomplicated. It begins when I get up with morning coffee. It ends when I go to bed. He snuggles up next to me for a few minutes each night as I tell him how lucky he is to be MY dog. The time in between those 2 events is spent chasing the ball, chewing the bone, eating his food, occasional trips to police the backyard (making sure the bunny and squirrel know it’s HIS back yard) and napping.

Ozzy has a good life; mostly because he has no worries. Ozzy has no worries because Terry and I love him.  Unable to meet any of his needs on his own, Terry and I take care of him.

This passage is the summation of “The Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus concludes His teaching with word pictures that draw a distinction between the life of one consumed with this life and one whose life is consumed by living for God.

The Message uses the word fuss where the King James Version used take no thought for your life and other translations use the word worry. Fuss is a word my grandma used. When I think of fuss it’s usually in reference to an inconsolable baby—a fussy baby.

Fussy babies are my least favorite kind. Fussy babies are, unhappy sitting up, crying lying down, not wanting a bottle, not needing a diaper change, not interested in a favorite toy; just fussy and miserable. Wanting something but unable to find that one thing that soothes the ache, or fill the need, they whine and FUSS.

At some point it seems that fussing takes over and the baby gives up. He is content to be discontent, happy with being unhappy; at that point, there nothing that can change the despondent child.

Jesus is trying to tell you and me there is a better way to live. God is a caring Father. He knows what your needs are and has the ability to meet those needs. Jesus directs your attention to nature. The birds and flowers don’t worry. They don’t fuss; a loving Father cares for them. If God cares for those insignificant things, Jesus asks why you are worried. What difference has your fussiness made – did it change anything other than your disposition?

Jesus gives the remedy for your fussiness in verse 33.   Commonly quoted, The King James Version says:

                          But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these                things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

I like how The Message says it:

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry about missing                out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Instead of fussing, Jesus says try       trusting. Rest in the knowledge that God knows what you need, has the ability to provide it and will take care of you.

KNOW that God loves you and you’ll realize no other thing matters because He will take care of what you need.

Father, thank you for your amazing love. Forgive me for being a fussy baby! I will rest in Your love for me today knowing that You have my best interest in mind. Knowing You will care for me.

 

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God’s Child

daddy 2

You are now children of God because you have put your trust in Christ Jesus.  All of you who have been baptized to show you belong to Christ have become like Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 (NLV)

 

DISCLAIMER:

If you have accepted God’s gift of salvation you are God’s child. Right up front, I’m going to say, if you have/had a strained or flat-out bad relationship with your parents, know that breaks God’s heart. That was never His plan. God, your heavenly Father, is not flawed like your earthly parents.   If this is the situation you find yourself in, find out what God is like by reading His word. Please don’t let a bad relationship here on earth keep you from the perfect love God has for you.

I have no children, so talking about the parental side of the parent-child relationship is something I’m not qualified to do. I can talk about being a child. I’ve had LOTS of experience with that.

You can say the same, since, regardless of age or status—we’ve all been children. So what does it mean to be a child of God?  All children have at least 2 things in common; children are honest and children are dependent.

Children are honest

My friends, Terry and I had just finished dinner. We were standing outside the restaurant, and during a lull in the grown-up conversation, young Sean blurted out in his child-like way, “Rachel’s fat!” His parents were mortified.   I nodded and told Sean he was right. It is an inescapable truth—one adults don’t say out loud.

I see the honesty of children all the time while shopping. There comes a moment during the shopping experience when junior reaches the breaking point. The sobbing and wailing start; it’s time to go home, he has had enough. There are times in the middle of shopping when I want to start crying, too. As an adult, I quietly keep shopping, sobbing on the inside. Kids are so lucky!

As a child of God, you and I can be honest with Him. He can bear the emotion. He can withstand the tantrum. God is unchanged by venting and questions. You and I can pray honest prayers. God knows the heart, so we might as well be honest. If you think God is being unfair to you, you can say that out loud. King David did. If you don’t understand what God is doing, you can say that to Him. He might even give you some insight into His plans for you.

Children are dependent

This is especially true of human babies; they are dependent. No child can survive without someone else meeting his needs. A baby doesn’t fight the parent who provides food, clothes and shelter. It’s accepted. It’s only when we “grow up” that we think we can do things on our own or need things a certain way. Parents are the providers. Children are the recipients of the parent’s love and favor.

As a child of God, I’m dependent on Him for every breath and heart beat. Every success I’ve had came from His hand. The abilities I possess are gracious gifts from Him. There are also tangible gifts like food, a home and stuff—all gracious gifts given by a loving Father. As a child of God, it’s my responsibility to trust. Trust that He is working for my good. Trust that the things He provides me with are the things I truly need. Trust that He will always make sure I have enough.

Father, what a privilege to be Your child! Thank you for being a loving, caring and patient father when I am a cry-baby and unappreciative of your love. Help me to honestly share my heart with You knowing You will always love me and accept me as Your child. Help me accept the life You have given me. Help me to make You a proud Father.

 

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Seeing With God’s Eyes

Chihuahua Wearing Eyeglasses

God does not see you as a Jew or as a Greek.  He does not see you as a servant or as a person free to work.  He does not see you as a man or as a woman.  You are all one in Christ. Galatians 3:28 (NLV)

 

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Growing up in Sunday school, we sang this song a lot. In this age of Political Correctness, I could see how this little ditty might not be accepted.

In my short lifetime, I’ve seen names change. A certain group now prefers this moniker; they no longer wish the name ________ used in reference to them. You can fill in the blank. Things change.

The funny thing is, apparently, people don’t.

Paul wrote this letter thousands of years ago, reminding those new Christians that God doesn’t see the differences we assign to our selves or others. You can change the pronouns. You can exchange Jew, Greek, slave, free, man and woman for whatever fits your situation; perhaps, Baptist, Lutheran, American, Bulgarian, rich, poor, young, old, beautiful, homely, sick, healthy, clean, dirty. You get the picture.

God does not have our eyes. For that, you should be glad. Even if you included yourself in the group of people God loves, someone somewhere would discount you.

That is the danger in the selection process we use. As Christians, we are all guilty of summing up a person and deciding if God could truly love him or her. I see people all the time and it never enters my mind that God loves that individual as much as He loves me. How could He? That person looks icky. That person looks undeserving. That person looks unaccomplished.   Somehow, as I think that, I think I look appealing, deserving, and accomplished as God looks at me.

Sometimes the person I’m looking at is the person staring back at me in the mirror. How could God love her? She has failed the same test so many times it’s embarrassing. She’s impatient and willful. She’s selfish and uncaring. You can replace the adjectives with the ones that fit you.

See, people ARE all the same.

We can try to celebrate diversity. We can learn to embrace each other’s differences. Really, we are all the same. The country you live in may have different traditions than mine, but in our hearts, we are the same.   We all have the same longings, the same needs, the same Savior.

In God’s eyes we are all the same. He sees just two groups; those who are desperately lost without Him and those who are His children. The wonderful thing is He LOVES BOTH GROUPS! If you are in the lost group; God loves you so much He sent His son to die for your sin so you could move into the second group. Once you accept the gift of Christ’s sacrifice; God sees Christ’s righteousness and glory when He looks at you—you look like His child. If you are a child of God, there is nothing left for you to do. He loves you – because he loves you.

It’s because of Christ you are precious in His sight.

Father, give me your eyes as I look at others. Teach me to love those around me as You do. Help me to see myself with Your eyes as well. Help me to live a life of love that is pleasing to you.

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